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Re: How will the semantic web emerge

From: Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net>
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 2005 19:59:45 +0100
Message-Id: <CED389AA-B192-4F99-970C-7CFDA5357D09@bblfish.net>
To: Frank Manola <fmanola@acm.org>, Semantic Web <semantic-web@w3.org>

	I agree that we should look out and be aware that the Semantic Web  
is going to make a whole slew of new things possible, and probably  
resurrect a lot of the AI work.

	In fact you can see how this could happen: when AI or knowledge  
bases were done before the mass adoption of the world wide web, the  
size of the demand for knowledge bases was too small for them to be  
able to get a wide public. Imagine shipping floppies for a knowlege  
base. There would be only very few people interested in the knowledge  
available in that form. Since knowledge tends to be a very  
specialized kind of thing, in any domain it can take a lot of work to  
get knowledge to be up to date and correct. The smaller the domain  
the more likely one is to be able to correctly encode the knowledge.  
But of course the smaller the domain the smaller the interested  
public. So one can see how a chicken and egg situation would have  
	With the internet it became possible for services to use one another  
and tailor knowledge provided by one group to markets in other areas.  
The problem before the Semantic Web, is that this requires everyone  
to keep re-inventing new protocols for communication, which slowed  
things down a lot. With RDF we have a way to generate self describing  
metadata, or data. By using URLs to create ontologies, the  
definitions of the vocabulary can be one HTTP GET away. This means  
that people can now publish data and work in a space where there is a  
common and growing understanding on how to understand this  
information. Since machine definitions of those ontologies can also  
be posted at the end of the url, there is clearly the possibility for  
some wild things to go on.

	But this is where we need to cool things down a little. I think  
there should be a motto: Don't stare at the sun. Don't look too far  
ahead into the future because if you do you may just go blind. The  
further ahead one thinks the easier it is to fail to take something  
important into account. And that is why I think that if we are going  
to speak about emergence it would be best simply to speak about  
something that could usefully be done now.  And in my opinion the  
easiest thing to do is for those that have data to open it up to a  
SPARQL end point and allow people to use it. This will be the best  
way to get a lot of people on board. As more people start using this  
data we will have more people around to understand and think about  
the next steps. For the Semantic Web to emerge we need a lot of  
people to start using it.

So here I posted some ideas of databases that could be opened.

I noticed some people on this thread have mentioned having opened  
some databases too. I'll gather these up and post a blog about those  
in the near future.


On 17 Dec 2005, at 17:33, Frank Manola wrote:
> Henry Story wrote:
>> I think all of this is way too pie in the sky for the semantic  
>> web.  Yes the Semantic
>> Web is about machines communicating with machines. But that does  
>> not  mean you have to go the whole way towards machine learning  
>> and  advanced AI technologies.
>> Oracle is a multi billion dollar company. It produces databases  
>> that  are uses by other software to both store and extract data.  
>> There we  have "machine to machine" communication. Everybody uses  
>> a database.  But most Mom and Pops don't access the data using  
>> SQL. They use a  machine to automate that process.
> snip
> Henry--
> I tend to agree with your point here that a lot of what will go on  
> the SW can and will do so based on some straightfoward application/ 
> extension of known technologies.  However, I also don't think  
> *anything* is "too pie in the sky for the semantic web".  It  
> depends on what people are trying to accomplish, and there are many  
> more players, with their own opinions, involved.  This is as much a  
> chance to try out some new approaches, based on the new environment  
> and wider participation it makes possible, as it is to apply  
> existing technology.  As the subject of this thread suggests,  
> there's "emergence" going on.
> --Frank
Received on Saturday, 17 December 2005 19:00:01 UTC

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